I can’t do this anymore. Seven years ago I hit send on the text message.
I did not know what day it was. I did not know the date. The house was dark and dim, but I did not know the time. A tiny baby lay asleep in his cradle. A tiny toddler asleep in the bed next to me. The television was off and I held my mobile phone in my hands. All I could do was stare ahead.
I did not know what I meant when I sent the text message. I did not know what “this” was. But I sent it anyway. Because the dead weight of parenting, especially in the first few weeks of bringing a newborn home can take away everything. Leaving you staring into a seemingly empty room with sleep deprivation and exhaustion as your only solace and a text message that made no sense, making perfect sense.
My husband received the text message. He was out with his friends, a quiet dinner to catch up. In my mind he was out with his friends every night. In my mind I juggled the newborn and toddler all on my own. But that wasn’t true. This was the first time he had been out in months. He was always home straight after work, ready to pick up where he left off in the morning.
But I sent the text message without logic. Without reason. Without a sense of self. Without a sense of him.
One of the things rarely spoken about, taboo almost, is the impact children can have on a relationship. It seems selfish to even consider it. Having children is such a blessing and a miracle that tainting it even in the slightest way with the impact it can have on the two people who want these babies so much is seen as a sin against the institution.
Now if you are reading this shaking your head saying ‘nope not us, it was all sunshine and roses.’ Then I am genuinely happy for you. But for me and for many friends and family in my life, having kids turned a once loving relationship into something we couldn’t recognise anymore.
It is not like you could see it break, slow motion like, or that you even noticed the cracks. It is more like you woke up one day and realised all the pieces were shattered on the floor and the little energy you had, you simply couldn’t use to pick them all up again. That is when text messages are sent. Messages without sense. Messages that are a cry for help.
When my husband received the message he did not reply. He got in his car and drove home. He called me the whole way. The next day he organised for someone to watch the boys, took the day off work and we spent the whole entire day together. Oh-my-goodness it was exhausting. Talking and talking and talking. We drove out to the beach for lunch and headed into town for dinner. Talking and talking and talking.
The relationship wasn’t broken. It just didn’t work the way it used to anymore. And that’s far from broken, it is okay. Just as two people evolve, change and melt into the new mould of parents, then it is inevitable that the same two people must evolve in the way their relationship works, exists and love takes a new shape.
One of the things even more rarely spoken about is how relationships rebuild themselves after children. Parenting, marriage, making sense of it all become a game of survivor. The challenges gruelling, some of them disgusting even, the conditions difficult at the best of times. But the reward of winning?
Relationships surviving and growing stronger after a couple becomes a family shouldn’t just be talked about, it should be supported. Celebrated even. The moment children are born all our focus shifts to them. Making the right decisions and doing the best for them. But we can’t forget that making the right decisions and doing the best for the relationship is just as important.
Recently, late one night in bed, I turned to hubby and said “we didn’t break this.” Turns out we didn’t just not break it; things are better than when we started. It was a long way to come from the text message I sent to him from that same bed seven years ago.
Do you celebrate your relationship?
Do relationships change in the shadow of parenting?
Disclosure: These images were taken on a recent trip to Japan,
twenty-one years of making this relationship work x
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